How To Get Started With Biblically Responsible Investing

Introduction to Biblically Responsible Investing

There is a movement underway in the world of finance where Christians are investing billions of dollars intentionally to support biblical values for the glory of God, and it is called Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI). More and more Christians are waking up to the opportunity to align their investments with biblical values, as well as discovering the unsettling truth that they have previously been profiting from immoral businesses such as abortion, pornography, human trafficking and other unbiblical practices. The growing demand for biblically responsible investments is changing the landscape of Wall Street and gaining global recognition as a powerful force for positive change for God’s glory throughout the world. However, many Christian investors are at a loss for how to get started with biblically responsible investing, but biblically responsible investing does not have to be complicated. Following is a step by step guide to make it simple and easy to implement biblically responsible investing in your financial life.


Step 1:
Discover What You Own From A Biblically Responsible Investing Perspective

The first step in the journey towards biblically responsible investing is to discover the truth about what you own in your investment account. What are the companies that you own in your 401(k), IRA, mutual funds, ETFs and other investments doing to turn a profit? Are they manufacturing abortion drugs, selling pornography, using slave labor in their supply chains? Are they donating money to Planned Parenthood? Lobbying to advance the LGBT agenda? I vividly remember the moment that I discovered the troubling truth of what I was invested in and how shocked I was to find that here I was, the president of our local pro-life pregnancy center, and I also owned stock in 3 companies through my mutual funds that were manufacturing abortion drugs. That means that every time a young woman went to Planned Parenthood and had an abortion, I was profiting from that transaction. That realization changed my life forever, as it has for countless other biblically responsible investors around the world today.

So, how do you go about finding out what the moral value of your portfolio is? It is certainly a daunting task to consider, and quite impossible for the average investor to compile the amount of research necessary to dig into the dirty details of every company in their portfolio. After all, it is hard enough just to read your quarterly statement without going cross eyed, let alone pour through thousands of hard to find data points on thousands of publicly traded companies.

The good news is that you don’t have to because there are Christian financial professionals, such as the members of our Christian Wealth Management network, that have robust analytic technology where they plug in your investment ticker symbols and out pops easy to understand reports that show you everything you ever wanted to know (and everything you NEVER wanted to know) about the moral issues in your portfolio.

There is also www.inspireinsight.com, which is a free online tool that our team built to empower investors with the biblical values data they need to make informed, God honoring decisions. Insight brings together the most robust data sets from the world’s leading providers, such as Thomson Reuters, Value Line, TruValue Labs and others, and makes that information freely available to anyone with an Internet connection.

All you need is to type in your ticker symbols or search the name of a company and instantly you have all the data related to the biblical values issues, both good and bad, that company is involved in as well as financial performance data so that you can make an investment decision that is both “wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove” (Matthew 10:16).

Are you ready to discover the truth about your investments? Ignorance is certainly not bliss, and I encourage you to take that step and see for yourself what is going on behind closed doors in your portfolio.

Step 2: Explore Biblically Responsible Investing Options

If you are like me, once you discover the moral issues in your current portfolio you will want to make a change as soon as possible. So, how do you build a biblically responsible investing portfolio? Upon learning about biblically responsible investing, some Christian investors have the concern that it will be difficult to find enough quality biblically responsible investment options to construct an outstanding portfolio that meets their financial goals. But praise God that the fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of companies pass even the most stringent biblically responsible investing screening criterion so that there is no shortage of quality companies for biblically responsible investors to allocate capital to. There are also a large and growing number of biblically responsible investing mutual funds, including lower cost ETFs (exchange traded funds) and other professionally managed investment vehicles available for biblically responsible investors and Christian financial advisors to use in their portfolios.

One word of caution: there are many investment funds issued by Christian faith-based organizations that one would assume are managed according to biblically responsible investing guidelines, but in fact do very little (or sometimes zero) investment screening. Also, not every Christian financial advisor is trained or equipped in biblically responsible investing, so do not just assume because your advisor is a Christian that they are managing your investments according to biblical values. Many Christian advisors, just like Christian investors, still have no idea that there is a major moral dilemma present in the portfolios they manage. As a good steward of God’s investments, be sure to do your homework and check the biblically responsible investing reports on www.inspireinsight.com even for Christian funds and advisors to make sure you know what you are investing in.

Once you identify your available investment options that meet biblically responsible investing screening criterion, the rest of the investment selection process is exactly the same as building any other portfolio: consider the risks, returns, fees, diversification and other important aspects to build your biblically responsible investing portfolio.

If you are a do-it-yourself investor, you can find many helpful resources direct from investment fund providers and analysis sites like www.inspireinsight.com. If managing your own investment portfolio is not on your list of favorite things to do, consider working with a Christian financial advisor who is trained in biblically responsible investing, like our Christian Wealth Management professional network members.

Step 3: Start Biblically Responsible Investing And Impact The World For God’s Glory!

After discovering what you own from a biblically responsible investing perspective, and then exploring your biblically responsible investing options, it is time to pull the proverbial trigger and become a biblically responsible investor, joining the growing number of other Christian investors in the biblically responsible investing movement!

The BRI movement is an exciting phenomenon that Wall Street is completely unprepared for. I have spoken with thousands of Christian investors and advisors over the past several years and I can attest to the fact that there is an awakening going on where the Holy Spirit is illuminating the importance of investing for God’s glory and placing a passionate conviction in the hearts of His people zealous to honor God in their financial life, just as they do in other areas of life.

God makes it clear in His word, the Holy Bible, that He wants His people to manage His money according to His values for His glory, and our joy. “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Christians control trillions of dollars in investment assets, and together we can inspire transformation for God’s glory throughout the world by aligning our investments (God’s investments!) with biblical values, sending a powerful message to Wall Street and corporations everywhere that God’s people care about biblical values enough to “put our money where our faith is”.

There are already biblically responsible investing success stories, such as corporations ending their philanthropic support of Planned Parenthood and hotels removing pornography from their televisions, and by the grace of God we will see even more of these inspiring stories unfolding. But, even if nothing changes and corporations continue to go from bad to worse, it is still the biblically responsible investor’s joy to glorify God by honoring His values with His investment assets. One day we will all stand before our Lord and give an account for what we have done with all He has given us during our time on earth. I want to hear the “well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master” regarding every part of my life, including how I managed God’s investments. What about you?

Blessings,

-R


Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.

Do Not Desire To Be Rich

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9)

How easy it is to desire to be rich. We certainly do not desire to be poor, do we? But here in the scriptures Paul issues a sobering warning to Timothy that those who desire to be rich run afoul with all sorts of disaster. I don’t know about you, but this causes me to pause and examine my heart because “ruin and destruction” are certainly not part of my long term financial goals.

But is wanting to be rich really against biblical teaching? Yes, yes it is. Consider that just a few verses later Paul exhorts Timothy (and all Christians, including you and me) saying, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.” (1 Timothy 6:11). God does not want His children chasing after riches any more than a mother wants her child to chase a ball across a busy street. It is not that the object being chased is necessarily wrong, but that the chase will absolutely end in ruin. Take note that Paul is not warning against riches, but rather the desire to be rich.

But isn’t the desire to be rich what drives our entire economic and investment system? Yes, yes it is. This is a problem because it is quite apparent by even the most cursory survey of the culture around us that most people desire to be rich, which means that they are careening headfirst into “many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction”. They are chasing their ball across the autobahn and the resulting carnage is all around us: Broken marriages, corrupt businesses, exploitation of the poor, families left destitute by dad’s (or mom’s) excessive risk taking.

And Christians are just as guilty as everyone else. In fact, many popular “prosperity gospel” preachers actually teach their adherents that they should desire to be rich, and that they should petition God loudly and persistently for material wealth, and that riches are a sign of strong faith. This is pure theological sewage and if someone is trying to feed it to you run away as fast as possible. The prosperity “gospel” is not the gospel at all. It is exactly what Paul describes in our text, a “temptation, a snare” that “plunge people into ruin and destruction”. Flee from it.

And even if you and I are not drinking from the sewer water that so many prosperity preachers are serving up, it is still far too easy in our culture to desire to be rich without even realizing it. How many times have I desired a bigger house, nicer car, expensive clothes, bigger income, lavish vacations, high-performing investments? Or in other words, how often do I desire to be rich? And don’t we see the damage even these “normal” American desires can be? We are tempted to buy as much house as we can qualify for, the nicest car we can finance and the largest credit limit we can get approved for. The result is often disastrous. Lost house. Lost car. Mountains of debt. Ruined life. The desire to be rich is insidious.

So, what are we to do? Thankfully Paul does not leave us hanging, but continues, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Ruin and destruction? No thanks. Kill the desire to be rich.

Everything to enjoy? Count me in.

Set your hopes on God. Be rich in good works. Share. Store up eternal treasure in heaven. Take hold of that which is truly life. God help us.

Blessings,

-R


Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.

Reflections On My First Wall Street Journal Article

It is a strange thing to see your picture in the Wall Street Journal for the first time. It makes you realize how normal the other people you see in the media are, because you know yourself and yourself is nothing special. Also strange is reading an article in the Wall Street Journal that “you wrote”, wondering what it is going to say because you did not actually write it, even though the WSJ makes it seem that you did. So, now that I have actually gotten to read “my” article and seen what I have to say, I have a few thoughts to share as well as some lessons learned. (PS – you can read the Wall Street Journal article here.)

1) I am humbled and thankful that The Wall Street Journal would choose to publish a story about me and my experience with biblically responsible investing.  I really am nothing special, but I serve a God who is awesome beyond compare. If there is anything good or praiseworthy in my life and work, it is only by the grace of God and to his glory. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36) If anyone tries to make a big deal out of me, they are sadly mistaken. Make a big deal about my God. He alone is worthy.

2) I wish The Wall Street Journal would have chosen a different title for the article. The one they chose, “Biblically Responsible Investing: A Lucrative Niche For Advisors”, strongly implies that the reason to pursue biblically responsible investing is because it is a “lucrative niche”. While it may be true that it can be lucrative, that most emphatically is NOT the reason any advisor or investor should practice biblically responsible investing. The only reason Christians should practice biblically responsible investing is because scripture clearly teaches to glorify God in everything that you do. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) If we are commanded to eat and drink in a manner that brings glory to God, surely we must do all we can to invest His money according to His values for His glory — regardless of the “lucrativity” of the outcome. In fact, scripture goes so far as to say that even if it means making less money that we should pursue righteousness in our financial dealings anyway, “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8) That is a hard pill to swallow in our flesh, but is a very revealing truth that exposes our hearts for what they are. Would you invest for God’s glory even if it meant you made less money on your investments?

3) It is happening. The biblically responsible investing revolution is really happening. The fact that The Wall Street Journal would write a major piece highlighting biblically responsible investing in a positive light is quite staggering. The time is coming when biblically responsible investing is correctly understood and practiced as a vital component of biblical stewardship throughout the church, just like giving, proper debt management, and other commonly taught biblical financial practices. More investors are investing according to biblical values today than ever before in the history of the world, and the numbers are growing. God is on the move. (As always.)

4) I don’t think I will be letting any reporters write stories for me without any editorial control again. Except for the aforementioned “lucrative” issue, the article came out pretty decent. But it could have been a total train wreck.

Above all else, what this particular experience has made clear to me is the great divide between the perspective of the world, which looks at the motivation behind serving God through the lens of being “lucrative” or other worldly measures of success, contrasted with the Christian’s great joy and preeminent desire to glorify God in all we do, regardless of the outcome. We serve God for He is worthy, not for what He is worth. Is that true for you?

Blessings,

-R


Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.

MONEY OR GLORY?

Why do you invest?

This is one of those questions that we tend to breeze by without giving much thought because the answer seems so obvious. But is it? And even if the answer is obvious, is it the right answer? So, what is your answer…to make money? To save for retirement? To provide for your family? To give money to charity? To make a positive impact in the world?

As practical and noble as some of those reasons are, none of them are the right answer. They may be correct insofar as they accurately describe your current motivation for investing; however, there is only one right answer, only one motivator that should be the driving force behind our investing: the glory of God.

“So whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”(1 Corinthians 10:31)

This passage illuminates the clear truth that our every action should be driven by a desire to glorify God. There is no other worthy substitute. But how many of us approach our investments with the glory of God at the forefront of our minds? Too few. Of course the world does not help us in this, as Wall St. sells us every reason to invest except for the glory of God: riches, wealth, prestige, security, responsibility, influence, impact, and the list goes on. God’s glory does not make the world’s list of investment objectives, but it should be the preeminent factor in the Christian’s financial plan.

This is easier to say than do, and certainly there is more to discuss than can be addressed in one short blog post like this one. But consider this: if you can eat and drink to the glory of God, certainly you can invest to the glory of God. In future posts we will explore how we can apply this truth to our lives, but for starters the best place to begin is by searching the scriptures and praying for a desire to glorify God in all that you do. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”(Matthew 5:6)

-R


Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.

THE CRISIS OF INFLUENCE

Esther did not intend to be queen. It was not listed in her 10 year strategic vision. But she found herself in a place of influence during a time of crisis for her people, God’s people, and she was called upon by her people to take action. She was called upon to use the influence that God had given her to be a blessing, even a means of salvation. But exercising this influence would come at a great cost to Esther – namely the risk of her very life. As Esther spoke, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live.” (Esther 4:11)

What influence has God given you? When crisis comes, and it will come, and you are called upon to exercise that influence for God’s glory, will you be ready and willing to do so – despite the deep personal cost that undoubtedly will come with it? Step forward with boldness! Pray and fast and entrust yourself to the Lord as Esther did! “Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:15,16)

There is no better place for a person than in the will of God, and there is no better step than the step of faith. Though the specters of fear and death crowd close around you, if you will press through in faith you will find yourself safe in God’s mighty hand. Linger in doubt and your fears may just come to pass. As Esther was told, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13,14)

Press in to God. Use your influence for His glory. Enter the throne room in faith and do not be afraid. God is with you.

-R


Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.

Christians, Dirty Money & Financial Revival

I had no idea that I was making money from abortions. I also had no idea I was making money on the sale of pornography. But every time someone used an abortion drug or bought an X-rated movie from Amazon or their TV provider like AT&T, Verizon, Dish Network and DirectTV, I was making a cut of that profit. With God’s money.

I was just like hundreds of millions of other Christians in this world who have the wool pulled over their eyes by the great Babylon of Wall St. For some reason, it had never occurred to me that the companies that I owned in my mutual funds, ETFs and stock and bond portfolios were the very same companies that were manufacturing, selling and promoting the vilest products of immorality and unholiness that the depraved human mind can conjure. But there it was plain as day, the truth that I was ignorantly profiting from the nails in my Savior’s hands, the thorns on His glorious brow and the spear through His broken heart.

And most likely, so are you.

Take for example the most heavily traded index fund in the world, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (ticker: SPY). This fund has $237.26 billion dollars in assets and trades an astonishing 18 million shares, or roughly $4.3 billion, per hour. Chances are that you are invested in this fund, or some other fund like it from Vanguard, iShares, American Funds or other company. The chart below shows the information that changed my life forever, and details exactly what owners of these funds are profiting from.

The question is, do you care?

Believe me, I know this is a difficult question to answer because the ramifications of “yes” mean a complete and total departure from the so-called financial wisdom of this world. My personal “yes” cost me all the financial security this world has to offer. And yes, I have also heard the attempts by some to sidestep this issue by saying that buying stock in the secondary market (as is done on the stock exchange, mutual funds, etc) does not actually support the company or give them any money. But they miss the point completely. The issue is not about some kind of financial boycott to withhold our money from “evil companies”, the issue is the unavoidable truth that as an owner of that stock, you and I are profiting from the most grievous of sins. Instead of “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11), we are pocketing the cash in the name of the Lord.

Hear the merciful appeal of God in His holy word, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Romans 12:2). Set aside for a moment the questions and doubts of how to invest in a way that is not “conformed to this world”, and instead ask God to give you the faith to trust Him, to believe that His ways are better than our ways, whatever they may be. Ask your Lord to give you ears deaf to the commentators of this age who point fingers at you and yell “Fool! Bigot! Intolerant!”, but attentive to the voice from heaven that calls, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)

Pray for personal, spiritual, financial revival.

-R


Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.

Overcoming Fear

Everything involves risk.  Especially things that matter.

When faced with the risk of failure and loss, fear is a natural emotion, but fear must be overcome. The popular “self-help” style of overcoming fear is to assume a false confidence that “everything will work out”, channeling Polly Anna with her rose-colored glasses, and resolutely ignoring the risk of failure. However, downplaying or ignoring the risk is not really overcoming fear, it is just a game of make-believe. Deep down you still know the risk is there and it gnaws at the back of your mind. You are still a prisoner of the specter of failure, you just have your eyes closed. Truly overcoming fear requires you to not ignore the risk, but rather to embrace the very real consequences of failure.

You might not succeed. You might fail. You could lose everything. That’s a real possibility.

Then there is just one question that you need to answer:  Is your calling worth the risk?

If you failed, miserably failed, and your worst nightmares came true, would it still have been worth it?  Do you believe in your cause enough to damn the torpedoes, step into the fire, do your best and leave the results to God, whatever they may be?  If the answer is no, then you don’t have the conviction you will need to succeed.  Even successful endeavors spend some time on the brink of failure, staring wide eyed into the open jaws of defeat and despair.  Without the steel and grit of the unshakable conviction that you must triumph, that your work is too great to back down from, you will come upon those dark and fearful times and perish, being swallowed up by dismay.  If your fear is greater than your conviction, you will eventually fail.  If your conviction is greater than your fear, then fear will never stop you, and even though you might give out, you will never give up.

Embrace the possibility of magnificent failure, trust God, and walk in victory over your fears.

-R


Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.

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Bible Values Create Raving Fans

Every (smart) business wants to deliver “wow experiences” that not only satisfy customers and employees, but turn them into raving fans.  Satisfied customers are happy, they don’t complain and probably will be loyal.  Raving fans, on the other hand, are more than happy, they are delighted; beyond not complaining, they sing your praises; and on top of their loyalty, they bring all their friends with them.  This is what separates a successful business from a ridiculously successful business.

But despite the many books and blogs, conferences and coaches that offer opinions on this topic, this holy grail still eludes the grasp of most companies.  Why?  Perhaps because the most effective solution is not found in organizational leadership, but spiritual leadership.  What we need is the fruit of the Spirit.

Love

Jesus famously taught his followers to “love your neighbor as yourself“, and also to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you“.  What if your customers did not just feel appreciated, but loved?  What if employers did not just value their employees, but loved them?  That would be something to rave about.  When was the last time you felt loved as a customer or employee?

Joy

I remember walking into a certain ice cream shop one day where I got what I asked for, service was quick, and the ice cream tasted great, but leaving the business the one thing that I found myself thinking about is how much those employees obviously did not want to be there.  If someone had given me a survey I would probably say I was satisfied, and I would probably go there again, but I certainly was not a raving fan.  Why?  The place lacked joy.

Peace

Have you ever worked where people just don’t get along?  Maybe there is back-biting gossip.  Maybe there is outright arguing and name calling.  Maybe there is just an acrid fog of unspoken ill-will permeating the halls and cubicles.  Nobody likes to work in a place like that, and customers don’t like doing business with an organization like that.  Seek peace and pursue it, and not counterfeit peace that is just surface deep, but real conflict resolution and unity, despite disagreements.

Patience

The two hardest people to deal with in business are customers and employees.  Hey, I’m just saying it like it is.  But, difficult people and situations also offer the best opportunity to create raving fans.  When an agitated person vents all of their frustration and anger on you, and you reply with patience and composure, that makes an impact like nothing else can.  And not just on the person with whom you are dealing with, but also with everyone in the audience.  And in business, you always have an audience.

Kindness

I love World Help.  We support their life-changing ministry as a company and also as a family.  Every year we attend their Global Impact Summit to hear first hand about the impact we are having with our support and how we can get even more involved, and every year I am blown away by the kindness of World Help’s people.  Simple yet powerful acts of kindness, like handwritten thank you notes at our dinner table and hotel room, arranging for first-class child care for us families with littles, always seeking us out with a kind smile and genuine “thank you for being here”, all of these endear me more and more to World Help as a supporter and raving fan.

Goodness

Most businesses try to be ethical, but ethical is a pathetic benchmark of goodness.  An ethical business is a business that does not do bad things, but inspiring business don’t just avoid bad, they do good.  Business is an incredible mechanism for creating positive impact in the lives of people all over the world.  Ken Blanchard, the pre-eminent leadership expert and author of the books “Raving Fans” and “One Minute Manager“, says it this way, “We need a new leadership model that focuses not only on goal accomplishment, but also on the greater good.”

If your business is a force for good in the world, that is something worth raving about.

Faithfulness

Don’t stab people in the back.  Follow through on your promises.  Say what you do, and then do what you say.  Do you want faithful customers and employees?  Then be faithful to them.

Gentleness

Domineering boss?  Pushy salesman?  Not rave worthy.  Empathetic employer?  Service over sales?  Now you’re talking, and so are your customers.

Self-control

Delivering an experience worth talking about takes self-control.  It takes doing the hard thing because it is the right thing.  Creating wow does not happen impulsively, but takes preparation and intentionality.  And it certainly takes self-control to live out all the traits mentioned above.

Conclusion

Now, here’s the catch:  It isn’t so easy to live out these principles, and even harder still to train an entire organization to live out these principles on a daily basis.  These values do not come naturally to us — certainly not to me!  The Bible calls them the “fruit of the Spirit” for a reason.  These are traits that can only be ours by the grace of God.  Do you want these values to be yours?  Skip the conference.  Pray for revival.

-R


Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.

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Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.

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Good Christians Are Fools

As a Christian in business, and in life, wisdom requires you to be a fool.  You will be called on by Wisdom to make decisions that seem folly to bystanders.  Onlookers will mock you at best and do their best to destroy you at worst.  They will not understand, accept or even tolerate your path, but you will be anchored by the irrefutable conviction that your decision is right.  Because beyond the current affairs of the day, the opinions of the age, and even the temporal success of your endeavor, above all is the timeless and eternal wisdom of God revealed in the Bible.  “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…” (Hebrews 6:19).

I can only speak from my own experiences, and I boast in nothing save Jesus Christ alone who is my only glory and sure foundation.  Such experiences as when I was compelled to leave the safety and security of my position at Wells Fargo, being compelled by the Spirit to start a company dedicated to biblically responsible investing (BRI), with no income, no savings and no clue what I was doing.  People questioned my judgement and whispered about the likelihood of my failure.

And when I steadfastly built that business by God’s grace, offering only biblically responsible investments, ready to refuse potential revenue under the conviction of scripture that “whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), many chided my foolishness that I would fail with such a narrow-minded focus, and yet God brought me more investors than I could handle, and also brought me advisor partners who shared my conviction to expand the scale of our growing firm.

Industry experts warned, and even scolded, that my insistence on diligent, biblical screening which filtered out hot-button issues such as LGBT activism and corporate giving to Planned Parenthood was just too radical, unnecessary and intolerant.  But how could I in good conscience profit from and recommend such things when scripture’s clarion call to “take no part in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11) resonated so in my soul?

And when God laid on my heart the necessity to bring biblically responsible investing to the world by launching Inspire, the world was incredulous, and even a bit outraged, that we would manage investments aligned with conservative, biblical values instead of conforming to “the pattern of the world”.  The media skewered us for our “intolerance“.  Financial experts scoffed “thou shalt not buy biblically responsible [investments]” claiming we would never be able to achieve good performance because of our “limited” investment universe of companies aligned with biblical values. Liberal activists proclaimed that we would never attract investor capital because our “approach is squarely at odds with that of nearly all of corporate America“.

And these same pundits scratched their heads when Inspire attracted massive capital, grew assets by 131% and was named among the nation’s fastest growing investment firms in the Financial Advisor Magazine 2017 RIA Ranking, with all glory to God because by worldly standards these authorities should have been right, save for one glaring omission in their reasoning which makes all the difference: God is sovereign.  And even if God had seen fit to allow me to fail in the world’s economy, I would still be a success in God’s economy, which is the only market that really matters after all.

So, when you are faced with a mocking crowd and find your convictions at odds with popular opinion, stand firm in the wisdom of God expressed in the Holy Bible.  Stand upon the firm foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord, “for the wisdom of this world is folly with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

“Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1)

Blessings,

-R


Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.

Reflections On Ringing The NYSE Closing Bell

Do you know what I was doing on Thursday, April 20th, 2017 at 4:00pm Eastern Daylight Time?  (I know…why should you care, right?)  Well, if you want to know, I was ringing the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange along with the rest of the Inspire Investing team.  So crazy!  It was a dream come true, a completely surreal experience.  Have you ever had an experience like that?  Something so great that you float through it like a dream, the reality of it all only sinking in over the next several days after?  I hope you have.

[Watch the video of our bell-ringing on Facebook!]

With the bell ringing a few days behind me, I have had some time to ruminate on the experience and thought I would share a few reflections that could come in handy the next time you find yourself ringing the NYSE bell, or doing something even more important.

1) Bring people with you.

The New York Stock Exchange is quite a place.  The energy inside that building is frenetic and contagious.  The pomp and circumstance, the liturgy and ceremony of the bell ringing connects you to a rich history dating back hundreds of years, all the way back to the first trading sessions under the famed buttonwood tree and the amazing growth of a young America into the world’s most thriving economy.

Standing up on the podium, overlooking all of this with my finger on the bell button (yes, it is a button), is exhilarating.  They allow you 14 people up on that podium, and we packed it out.  The experience was infinitely more rich because I shared it with people I love and who love me: my wife, my business partners, and their wives.  We have labored hard and sacrificed much together to get to that platform.  I cannot imagine being up there all alone.  Next time you do something great, bring people with you.

2) Make it count for eternity.

No matter how great an accomplishment ringing the closing bell of the NYSE is, or whatever achievement you are celebrating, if it is just an earthly triumph it will not last and really doesn’t matter at all.  As the apostle Peter reminds us,

“All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:24-25)

Ask yourself how you can imbue your great deed with eternal significance.  If you don’t, then what have you really accomplished?  Nothing.  As Vernon Brewer, my friend and Founder/CEO of World Help (who joined us on the bell podium, BTW), says often, “Do something everyday that will outlive you and last for eternity”.  That is a great idea.

We brought eternity to bear in our bell ringing in a few different ways.  First, I preached a short message for our guests and NYSE staff on Matthew 5:13-16, letting your light shine, in the NYSE “Big Board Room” before the bell.  Second, we made sure to point people to God while we celebrated on the podium.  Third, we used the “tag the wall” tradition (where bell-ringers get to write on the wall in the stairwell just behind the bell podium) to share the eternal hope of Jesus through scripture.  All the previous bell-ringers just signed their name and date, like some grown-up financial version of a yearbook, but our team took that opportunity to write in permanent ink, indelibly in plain view of all future bell-ringers, verses of scripture and proclamations of God’s goodness and glory.  Why write our silly names when we could write something eternally profound?

Which leads me to my third and most important exhortation…

3) Give God the glory.

It is tempting to soak in the spotlight when the world shines it on you, but that is the biggest mistake you could ever, ever, ever make.  When people all over the world are telling you how great you are and how magnificent your accomplishment is, don’t fall for it.  Don’t buy the lie.  You are not great and you are not magnificent.  Sorry, but you’re not.  And I most certainly am not.

All you have is from God, who alone is sovereign over your successes and failures.  If there is anything good that you have done it is only because of the grace of God in your life — whether you believe in Him or not.  I am more keenly aware than anyone how incapable I am of doing anything good or noteworthy apart from the blessing of God.  I seek His grace each day, and ask desperately for His favor, because without it I am nothing and neither is our company.  And I pray fervently that I never make the mistake of King Nebuchadnezzar, who claimed for himself the credit for his great kingdom and was reduced to nothing until he acknowledged God as the source of his blessing.  (Read the story in Daniel 4:28-37.  It is a fascinating story of how “those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (v. 37), especially the greatest among us).

So, next time the spotlight shines on you, be a mirror and not a sponge.  Reflect the glory to God, who alone is worthy.  Only if you do that are you or I truly a success.

Blessings,

-R


Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.

Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

Image result for twitter logo Twitter.com/robertnetzly
Image result for linkedin logo LinkedIn: @Robert_Netzly

Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.